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Melissa A. Featherston

Court sides with Missouri couple, again, in child custody dispute

A Missouri court recently sided with the adoptive couple of a young boy caught up in an international custody dispute. We wrote about the case in our blog entry on May 23 ("Missouri couple in midst of international child custody case"). The now-5-year-old boy has been raised by the couple since he was an infant.

His mother, an illegal immigrant, had abandoned the child; at least that's how one Missouri court ruled in the case. It then granted child custody of the boy to the Carthage couple who had raised him since infancy.

Child custody disputes are rarely simple, and that proved to be the case here. The mother was reportedly arrested in a raid on suspected illegal workers a poultry plant several years ago. After her detention, her son evidently was passed among various family members before being privately adopted by the American couple. An appellate court overthrew that adoption, however.

The biological mother, from Guatemala, was allowed to remain in the U.S. while this custody dispute was argued. She apparently began fighting to regain custody of her son back in 2008, when the couple first adopted the boy. The couple previously argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that, even if their adoption of the boy was found to be improper, taking the boy away from the family and country he now knows would not be in his best interests. The Supreme Court justices ordered the case back to circuit court.

The boy, now with dual American and Guatemalan citizenship, reportedly speaks only English. His biological mother on the other hand, does not speak English. Her attorneys challenged the process as being stacked against her. While the Missouri Supreme Court agreed that the woman's parental rights had been unfairly taken away, the members couldn't see eye to eye on who should get custody of the boy, which was why it was sent back to the lower court.

The court has now spoken, again. But the attorney for the biological mother says another appeal is planned.

Source: stltoday.com, "Judge gives Missouri couple custody of illegal immigrant's child," Nancy Cambria, July 19, 2012

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